Corona del Mar's varsity is very talented and tall. With six seniors in the eight starters, the Sea Kings are led by 6-foot-2 Morgan Boukather, 6-2 Claire Ham, 6-foot Hailey Senske and 6-1 Britton Taylor. Setter Megan Griffin, back-row specialist Catherine Sullivan and libero Katelyn Baker have been on the varsity for three years.
Darryl Gan has added Steve Conti to his coaching staff to compliment Josh Ko. Conti's last CdM girls' coaching assignment brought Corona del Mar a CIF championship.
Newport is not so tall, and the Sailors are younger. Coach Dan Glenn and assistant Taylor Govaars have put Cinnamon Sary in a position that she is producing in all areas of the game for the Sailors. Senior outside hitters Maddy Brown and Sarah Buckingham as well as senior middle blocker Lauren Demos lead the attack.
Newport has lost two middles to injury this season. Junior Alex Holbrook was a major part of the Newport offense before injuring her knee in the first Los Alamitos Sunset League match. Last weekend at the Santa Barbara Tournament of Champions, senior Renny Niebuhr, who had filled in well for Alex, suffered a badly sprained ankle. That has moved freshman Carolyn Bockrath into the starting position.
Another Newport strength is its ball-control cadre. With Hunter Jennings, Tatum Norton, Biz Buckingham, Tilly Lumpkin and Tabi Goff all getting considerable playing time, not many balls find the floor.
Both teams are highly ranked in their divisions, but whatever the records are leading up to the match, it is always a battle. It is always packed with many parents staying for all three matches.
It will be a night to remember.
Charlie Brande is a freelance columnist for the Daily Pilot and a former coach at Newport Harbor High and Corona del Mar.